One of the newest members of the Shopper Anonymous team, Sonia Singh, who heads our Birmingham franchise, found through personal experience that many law firms really don’t understand customer service:
“When I came to take on the Shopper Anonymous franchise for Birmingham, I wanted to do it thoroughly and properly as it’s a big decision and needs a supportive and impartial lawyer throughout the process of exchanging contracts.
I’ve been really surprised how difficult it was finding the right solicitor even just to look through the contract. You would think in Birmingham there would be loads of corporate lawyers happy to deal with franchise purchases, but my experience suggests otherwise.
My first contact was with someone recommend by my accountant. I rang this chap to find out how much he charged but he said he would need to see the contract to give me a quote – his first words were ‘I’m not an auctioneer’. I asked if he could give me a ballpark figure, to save him the time of looking through the contract but all he said was that if I could find someone cheaper than him, to do so. That was my first encounter with a lawyer and to say I wasn’t impressed would be an understatement!
I then thought I’d hit the net to do some more research into franchise specialists and came across another lawyer, this time in London. He immediately asked which franchise I was looking at and insisted on having a conference call that included his secretary. While we were talking and with no reference to the actual business let alone the contract, he looked up the company online and said he wouldn’t touch it, without giving any reason why. It was becoming obvious that it was going to be quite a minefield to find someone who would give you good advice and take your viewpoints into account.
In the end I rang about 10 solicitors and finally found a company in London who I felt comfortable using. Though they’re not very big, they’re very approachable, very thorough and offered good value for money and I’m delighted that with their help I’m now part of the Shopper Anonymous team.
It’s made me wonder about the legal industry as a whole, though and makes me wonder how they ever get business. Many law firms seem to have a very ‘toffee-nosed’ attitude to customers and even worse to potential customers, and they’re very quick to offer a viewpoint without asking for much information – it’s an ‘I know best’ attitude and they clearly don’t like being told they’re wrong. The general culture of lawyers seems to be very ‘old school’; even when I did find a good lawyer I wasn’t always made to feel like a valued customer.
A few times when I needed to speak with my solicitor I was told she was about to go for a lunch break and would call back at some point in the afternoon, or even the next day. Its not what a customer needs to hear when you’re paying £200 per hour!
I’ll certainly be mystery shopping lawyers and law firms over the coming months and years, as my recent experience has taught my that they need to understand the importance of a positive customer experience, especially when it comes to finding new clients. Whether they’ll be prepared to listen to advice from an expert remains to be seen!”
You can contact Sonia on (email) or 07446 005759.